Today though, we will take a brake from looking at the gems, and instead enjoy a little history lesson about Fabergé and his business! I know at least I like to know the story behind the things I admire, so I hope you do too!
|Peter Carl Fabergé|
Peter Carl Fabergé´s (1846-1920) father - Gustav Fabergé - was the owner of a small silver and jewelry shop in St. Petersburg, so it was probably here Carl Fabergé first realized he wanted to go into the same business as his dad.
Between 1861 and 1864 he traveled around between different goldsmiths in Germany to learn the profession. He also visited several European cities - Rome, Venice, London, Paris etc - to be able to see a number of jewelry collections with his own eyes. He also studied national economics, so when he returned to St. Petersburg he was well equipped to start working in his father's firm, which he took over completely in 1872.
|Tsar Alexander III and his wife Maria Feodorovna. Source|
Fabergé had the idea that he wanted to make his jewelry firm different from everyone else's. Something that stood out in the mass. During this time jewelry and other decorative pieces were valued according to the size and weight of the jewels and metals. Fabergé though, thought that the artistic bit, the creativity and imagination of the individual artist, was more important even than the economic profit. He always saw himself more as an artist than a businessman, and even worked for free repairing and valuing "treasures" in the Eremitage. Because of his work there, he was invited to participate in the Pan-Russian Industrial Exhibition in 1882. This turned out to be of huge importance for the history of Fabergé. During the exhibition his creations caught the eye of none other than Tsar Alexander III and his wife Maria Feodorovna...
Three years later he was given the title Purveyor to the Court - a title that meant a substantial increase in income. Except for the Royal Court, there was a growing amount of nouveaux riches who also became his clients when they saw he was favored by the Tsar family.
In 1897, after taking part in several exhibitions, and receiving a number of fine prizes, Fabergé also becomes Purveyor of the Court in both Sweden and Norway. After winning yet another gold medal at the Exposition Universelle in Paris, in 1900, the jury makes the comment: "his work reaches the limits of perfection, with jewels being transformed into real objets d'art". He now got commissions from other European cities, and what made Fabergé so unique was that he didn't have one certain style - he learnt what was "in" in different countries, and then designed objects that would suit his customers according to nationality. And each client got a one of a kind piece - there were never two objects of the same shape. At the end of each year all the goods that hadn't been sold, or didn't fit Fabergé's high standards, was - according to himself - melted down...
When WWI begins, in 1914, Fabergé's shop starts using simpler materials, like copper, and eventually starts creating hand grenades and other objects needed during the war. After the abdication of Tsar Nikolai II, in 1918, Carl Fabergé closes his business and escapes with his family to Wiesbaden. In 1920 Carl dies at the Hotel Bellevue in La Rosiaz, in Switzerland, and is eventually buried at the cemetery i Cannes - where he now rests beside his wife, Augusta.
In 1924 two of Fabergé's sons - Eugène and Alexander - starts the firm Fabergé & Cie, with the hopes of rebuilding their father's successful business. But there is no longer a need for beautiful luxury items, and they have to shut their business down...
|"Fabergé by Ananov" egg. Source|
Today the name of Fabergé lives on as a brand of beautiful objects created with the highest quality. A man named Sam Rubin bought the rights to use the name in 1951, and in 1989 Unilever bought the rights to the name Fabergé Inc. There is also a jeweler who has acquired the right to create his own "Fabergé" objects. His name is Victor Mayer of Pforzheim, and a shop in St. Petersburg, owned by Andrei Ananov, who creates "Fabergé by Ananov".
Except fore these there are many leaches earning big money by creating and selling false Fabergé products. But in the end, a genuine Fabergé creation will always be the real, most valuable thing. It doesn't matter how many people uses his name to make money. So far I haven't seen anyone create what Carl Fabergé and his workmasters created, for the people who lived in those times when a tiara was something a lady worn if she went to a formal ball, and beautiful things were valued so much more than iPhones and spray-on tans...
Next week I'll tell you about what went on in Fabergé's shop!